According to our Marco Polo guide book Cathedral Cove is a gigantic, arched limestone cavern that connects two sandy beaches, but is accessible only at low tide. The book fails to say that it’s a fairly strenuous walk from Hahei in blazing sunshine. But it was worth it and we had a lovely swim.
We didn’t stay long at the beach that gets cut off; we didn’t know how much higher the tide was going to rise. So we went back through the arch to the Mares Leg Cove and swam by the Smiling Sphinx rock.
Before leaving the Bay of Islands we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s most important historic site. We arrived early, registered for the first guided tour and visited the original musem. After that we went to the cafe for a coffee. The guided tour lasted around 50 minutes, ending at the carved Maori meeting house where we experienced a high-energy Maori cultural performance. The visitors to the meeting house were represented by a young Polish man who gave an excellent reply to the Maori welcoming speech.
While on the guided tour I stopped briefly to record a cicada in full swing.
Next we took the gravel road to the Haruru falls, which were in full dribble.
Then we set off to the Waipoua forest on the west coast to do a bit of tree hugging. Trouble is, you’re no longer allowed near kauri trees. They’re suffering from kauri dieback, which is spread through the soil. First we saw the biggest: Tane Mahuta – Lord of the Forest then a few miles down the road we wandered further to see the second biggest Te Matua Ngahere – Father of the Forest.
That evening, we stayed in Dargaville and found a nice curry house for dinner. We were rather surprised to meet the Pole from the Maori meeting house in the same restuarant. Susan congratulated him on his reply to the Maori chief.
Starting from Paihia our Great Sights scenic cruise to the hole in the rock, with island stopover, was a fairly early start. The catamaran was quite speedy, so once we were out of the shelter of Tapeka point some people opted to go below to avoid the salt spray.
Having gone through the hole in the rock at Motukokako we visited a few more islands on the way to Otehei Bay, on Urupukapuka island, where we disembarked for an hour, visited the cafe and climbed a hill to see the view.
Apparently this island is pest free; it doesn’t have rats, skinks or Argentine ants.
We opted to stop off at Russell – which used to be known as the Hell hole of the Pacific – and climbed up to the flagstaff for some more stunning views, before returning to the town for a late lunch. Another tasty pie for me, quinoa salad for Susan.
On our return to Paihia, we had a quick drink at Zane Greys. Later we headed out for a Thai meal at Green’s, where we ordered too much food. But not as much as the German’s next to us, who were having an Indian meal. I thought their starter was the main course.
On day 3 we headed north to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands. First we had to collect our hire car from Europcar. And before that, a short walk to find breakfast.
Having picked up the car we returned to the hotel to load our luggage, then headed straight out onto the ‘motorway’, over the harbour bridge and onto the toll road, then onwards to Northland.
Our hire car was a Kia. It had a lane sensing device that beeped when you crossed a white line and tried to straighten you up. You could feel it in the steering.
Q. Why didn’t the Kia cross the road?
A. Because it had a lane sensor.
We stopped for lunch – our first pie – at the Miner’s Rest Cafe, Hikurangi. I shouldn’t have chosen the lime flavoured milkshake.
On arrival at Paihia we discovered that someone else from Rowlands Castle had visited the Bounty Motel a few weeks previously. The owner remembered since a) his surname was Rowlands b) he used to be a cinema manager and had worked at the Odeon Cosham. We didn’t find out who it was though. Probably because I used the four letter GDPR word.
That afternoon and evening we did some food shopping, chose our Bay of Islands Scenic cruise to the hole in the rock, and had a lovely takeaway Valentine’s pizza.